Published on November 21st, 2019 | by Vanderbilt Hockey0
Rookie and Veteran Talent Power Commodores Through First Half of the Season
by Ryan Rogers
At the conclusion of the first semester, your Vanderbilt Commodore Club Hockey team sits at a comfortable 7-6. With the first half of the season complete and no games scheduled until mid-January, this seems as good a time as any to recount the campaign thus far.
Commodore hockey began the season with tryouts and two weeks of practices in early September, leading up to an opening weekend at home consisting of two games against Eastern Kentucky University. The team this year returned veteran leadership and added rookie talent that have combined to yield success thus far.
In the opener against EKU on September 20th, the Commodores dominated the first period, outshooting the visiting team handily but yielding no goals in the opening frame. In the second period the scoring opened up with the Commodores netting four and further expanding the gap in shots. The game went final at 4-0, Vanderbilt putting 66 shots on net. In the Sunday game, Vanderbilt completed the two-game sweep of EKU in a comfortable 12-1 with three of those goals coming from freshman Christian Cottone.
The weekend against Eastern Kentucky was followed by a two-game home set against a strong Arkansas team. This weekend would be less successful, with the Razorbacks taking both games, by scores of 13-1 and 6-3 on Friday (9/27) and Sunday, respectively. Arkansas currently maintains a record of 22-1 and sits atop the ACHA M3 rankings.
The month of October began with the team’s first road trip, a weekend trip visiting an SECHC opponent, the University of South Carolina, the first game being played on Friday, October 4th. The weekend would prove to be a challenge for a short Commodore bench as USC took the Friday and Saturday games by scores of 7-0 and 7-2. With an overall record of 2-4 and an SECHC record of 0-4 following a disappointing weekend in Columbia, Vanderbilt turned its attention to a home-and-home series against local rival and SECHC opponent Middle Tennessee two weeks later.
The first game against Nashville rival MTSU, an away game, was played on Friday, October 18th and marked Vanderbilt’s final game of the season to be played at Ford Ice Center in Antioch. In the primetime Friday night contest, the Commodores grinded out a much needed 5-2 win against a gritty Blue Raider team to halt a 4-game skid. As MTSU games tend to go, there were plenty of penalties on both sides, but Vanderbilt capitalized on odd-man opportunities.
The Sunday morning game against MTSU was Vanderbilt’s opener from their new home, Ford Ice Center Bellevue. With the puck dropping before most college students wake up, the Commodores got off to a slow start, playing a sloppy opening period. The team cleaned things up and managed to right the ship, winning the game by a score of 4-1, finishing the sweep and collecting two important SECHC wins.
At the end of October, Vanderbilt hockey sat at an even 4-4 overall, with a 2-4 record in SEC competition.
November held one of the more important weekends for Vanderbilt Club Hockey, with the team hosting the annual Scholar Shootout, a round-robin tournament played by four teams. This year, the Commodores hosted High Point, Alabama, and Notre Dame, playing one team per day beginning on Friday, November 8th.
The Commodores first game of the tournament was a violent contest played against High Point University. The game yielded more than 30 individual penalties including multiple misconducts, an ejection, and an altercation involving some fans that resulted in a lengthy delay during the second period. The commodores pushed through the adversity and escaped the Friday night royal rumble with a 7-3 win.
The second game was played on Saturday night against a highly-skilled Notre Dame team. The Irish took the tilt 9-2, capitalizing on some Vanderbilt penalty trouble. Notre Dame went on to sweep the weekend and win the tournament.
Vanderbilt’s final game of the Scholar Shootout was played on Sunday, November 10th against the Crimson Tide. The Commodores outplayed and outshot their opponents, but Alabama ultimately took the game 4-1, relying on strong goaltending and an opportunistic offense.
November concluded with two forfeit victories against Mississippi State.
Vanderbilt Club Hockey returns to action on January 17th with two home games against Santa Clara. The team has showed promise with some confident wins against solid opponents, relying evenly on contributions from both veterans and rookies. With a record of 2-4 in SEC play, making the conference tournament will require winning some important games, something the Commodores are entirely capable of.